The 7 most important questions to answer when planning a branch remodel

You’ve decided to remodel one of your branches. While the process of making that decision requires careful consideration (as we’ve discussed in both this article and this article), once you’ve decided to remodel, you’re faced with a new set of questions.

In most cases, the overarching question when planning a renovation is whether the branch should remain open or closed during construction.

Based on our experience with 1000+ different construction projects with financial institutions, we’ve identified the 7 most important questions you will need to ask and answer when you’re planning a branch remodel.

3 questions if you’re considering remaining open during construction

Many credit union executives believe that remaining open during construction is the best option. Understandably, they want to limit the inconvenience to current members by continuing to offer the services they need to process transactions and other normal business.

But this may not be the best option. You’ll need to answer the three questions below if you plan to stay open during the branch remodel construction process.

1. Is the branch large and flexible enough to provide enough room for essential services to remain available?

The size and layout of the branch you’re going to remodel—and the amount of changes you’re making to it—are significant factors in determining if you can stay open during construction. Maybe you can create a smaller working footprint of the branch that can stay open to process member transactions. This question requires realistic, practical planning, even to the point of marking out the areas with tape to see if they are really large enough … and if your technology systems are flexible enough to function as needed.

2. If construction needs to take place during nights and weekends (to not impact member service), will that result in increased costs?

Staying open during a branch remodel often requires some (if not most) of the construction to happen during off-hours—evenings and weekends. Some subcontractors may charge extra to work overnight or on weekends, so make sure to inform them if that is your plan when you request bids for their work.

3. If the construction schedule will take longer to complete if you remain open, will you incur additional costs?

When you stay open during a remodel, the construction process will almost certainly last longer than if you were to close during that time. This is another factor to make sure to communicate up front with your construction manager and contractors.

When answering these three important questions, you may discover that remaining open during the remodel isn’t an option. What do you do then?

3 questions if you’re considering closing the branch during construction

When you realize you can’t remain open during the process, there are another set of questions that need to be answered. These questions will guide you in determining which option is best for your credit union.

4. How long would you need to be closed?

Depending on how long your branch would actually need to be closed, the financial impact could vary significantly. It’s important to work with your construction manager and contractors to create a detailed project plan for each step of the renovation so you know how long you need to plan for.

5. Is there another branch nearby that could serve members well during the construction?

If you have a strong branch footprint in the area, you may be able to direct members to other branches, ATMs, or micro branches while the branch being remodeled is closed. Of course, this question is closely related to question 4 above—knowing how long the branch would need to be fully closed will guide your decision-making about if the rest of your network can serve members effectively during construction.

6. Could a temporary trailer be placed onsite to process member transactions during construction?

If your nearby network isn’t a viable option, you can place a temporary trailer onsite to serve members. When considered next to the increased costs of a longer process (see question 3 above) or contractors working nights and weekends (see question 2), this may be your best option.

Question 7 may be the most important

7. Does your construction partner understand banking enough to effectively guide you to practical answers and realistic solutions?

You know that choosing the right construction partner for your branch renovation is important—and one of the ways you’ll know they’re the right partner is that they can help you answer the other questions. There are plenty of construction firms who do good work, but few have the retail banking experience to guide you through the most important questions that will determine the short-term impact of the remodel on your bottom line.

Whoever you choose as your construction partner, answer these questions and you’ll be on your way to a successful renovation that generates excitement and momentum for your branch and leads to a new season of predictable growth.


Contact LEVEL5

Contact LEVEL5

Kurt Klassen

Kurt Klassen

Kurt is a financial services executive with two decades of experience working with both banks & credit unions. He excels in developing & executing transformational growth strategies for financial institutions, ... Web: Details